Generation A Hardcover – Sep 1 2009
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Quill & Quire
Generation A, Douglas Coupland’s 11th novel, is a great bookend to Generation X, the novel that launched his career. The term “Generation A” was in fact coined by Kurt Vonnegut, but Coupland embraces it and makes it his own. The narrative is written from alternating first-person points of view, a tactic that harkens back to Generation X. The story takes place at a time in the near future when honeybees have become extinct. Five people (referred to in the novel as the “Wonka children”) are mysteriously stung. At the heart of the mystery is the controversial drug Solon, which allows its users to suppress anxiety by living exclusively in the present. Like detective fiction, the book uncovers the connections between the Wonka children and this dangerous drug, but it also plays with narrative conventions by illustrating the ways that people tell stories in our increasingly digital, ultra-high-speed world. If Generation X gave us “tales for an accelerated culture,” then Generation A is its natural extension, offering tales for the information overloaded. The bite-sized chapters and witty tone will appeal to those with perpetual attention defi cits, and bits of pop culture sprinkled liberally throughout will attract readers highly attuned to the current zeitgeist. Coupland clearly understands the minds of the current generation – young people who have never known a time without the Internet – and plays on their desire to jump continually from one subject to the next. To what end does this cultural ADD affect our lives and the ways we communicate with others? How can we silence the sounds of data that are constantly streaming into our heads? Are deeper human connections becoming more possible thanks to the Internet, or does the lack of face-time increase our alienation? Coupland explores these questions without resorting to obvious, cynical answers. He even manages to offer a hopeful ending, despite the odds.
‘With this exceptional sequel to Generation X, Douglas Coupland may be one of the smartest, wittiest writers around… He is a terrifically good writer…Generation A is set in the near future… Bees have become extinct, but then five people are stung…It is the attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery that brings the five together on an Alaskan island [actually BC island!] where they are made to tell stories to one another. Coupland weaves common elements across these tales and into the main narrative: large themes… comic themes… existential themes… There is a compelling plot… Coupland scatters his smartly satirical observations throughout…This is a clever, brilliant book — and it’s loads better than Generation X…funny and profound.’
‘Eighteen years on from Generation X, Coupland still satirises pop culture better than anyone. This globe-spanning tale, set in the near future, is masterfully told and often hilarious.’
I know I’m not alone in thinking that Douglas Coupland is one of our finest chroniclers of modern life…. He’s funny, though, and maybe that’ s his ‘problem.’ Memo to the Custodians of CanLit: Big Ideas can be delivered with humour and wit.”
— National Post
"Douglas Coupland is the greatest Canadian ironist of his time. . . . A far-fetched and enjoyable romp. . . . If he lives long enough, he could go through the alphabet of generations and entertain us thoroughly in the process. . . . A world without bees is hard to imagine. It's almost as hard to imagin[e] a Canada without Coupland."
— The Globe and Mail
"As you're revelling in Coupland's wit and political acumen, a knockout section offering a trenchant commentary on storytelling suddenly hits you: how the best tales work, what inspires us and how stories can change the world. Don't miss it."
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Top Customer Reviews
When I read this work, I began absolutely hating it, and by the end, grew to at least somewhat appreciate what it may have been trying to say in the end. Perhaps, it's just not my thing. An oddity to say the least.
Thankfully, Generation A by Douglas Coupland is the greatest of gifts and one of the best books I have read in a long time. It may even top my current Coupland favourite, JPod.
Generation A is set in a world that is incredibly familiar to our own. But clearly quite a few things have changed. There are drugs we can take to slow down our lives. Things like apples are incredibly hard to come by. And bees are extinct.
That is, until five people, in different corners of the world get stung by five separate bees. The Wonka Children, so they call themselves, struggle to live in a world after they have become celebrity/freaks where, because of a bee sting, they become famous.
If it sounds bizarre, that's because it is. And delightfully so.
The novel is told from the five points of view from the five sting victims. Don't worry, the chapters are told in delightfully short bursts (no chapter over ten pages here, folks) to fit into our high tech life-style. When you're on the run, your reading time is quick.
Coupland manages to cram some incredible things into those short chapters. After reading Generation A, I've been exposed to nakedness, religion, voyerism, different religious beliefs, call centres, references to the Simpsons (Mmmmm....honey), parody's of American culture, the point and purpose life, whether it is better to believe in a higher power versus not, the ideas and fundamentals of what makes people real.
I could go on.
It is a delightful mental marathon that makes me want to keep up.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
So Douglas Coupland is always about shtick and by the end of the book, the shtick was wearing thin on me. Read morePublished 18 months ago by reluctantm
There are books of fiction that reveal greater truths than non-fiction, because the revelations it makes are still largely in our collective unconscious, waiting to surface. Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2009 by sean s.